A Thousand Words

The School of Athens

Mary Elizabeth Podles on Christian Art

By the time he finished the Disputa in 1509, Raphael had already begun work on the opposite wall of the papal library. Facing off against the Disputa's Trinitarian theology was its humanist counterpart, Classical philosophy, the fresco generally known as The School of Athens. The young artist's compositional skill has grown. This wall is even more populous and complicated, yet just as coherent a whole as the Disputa, if only we can find the key to reading it.

The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio
Raphael's The School of Athens
. . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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